Sydney AveyDynamic Women — Changing Times
Words of Peace
Christmas gives us special moments of unity. We take time to delight someone with a gift or wish them well with a card. We attend inspirational Christmas performances. We dust off the old family customs that bind us together. We dish up new traditions that carry us forward.
Our celebration may feel like a too-short intermission in our daily lives, Or we may experience an extended time of worship and visits with family and friends. Either way, the time comes to box up the tinsel and lights and express our last wish for peace, love, and joy. We wonder, why can’t we keep the Christmas Spirit of “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” all year round?
Our words matter
One of the seasonal joys is that the angry speech that plagues our world softens a bit. As we add messages of goodwill to our Christmas cards, our words of peace are particularly meaningful. In Colossians 4:6, Paul exhorts us— “Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you have the right response for everyone.” And James 3:18 encourages us to “plant seeds of peace.”
One of the names for Jesus is Word of God. Words are expressions of thought. Jesus came to express God’s thoughts to us. Our words matter. The peace, love, and joy we wish each other at Christmas we can extend all year long.
Along with the holiday decorations, let’s box up the hasty judgments we make. The harried checker behind the counter, the frazzled mom, wrestling with her misbehaving toddler in the grocery aisle; the fragile woman in the wheelchair; the impatient man in a slow-moving line; the teen with purple hair, piercings, and tattoos—God knows their hearts. We don’t.
What might the people around you need to relieve the anxiety of the moment? Or the sense of isolation that often masquerades as attitude? Simple prayers work miracles. Sometimes, God gives us words. Pray for the person you notice. Speak the words of peace God gives you.
Make eye contact to let the store clerk know you aren’t in a rush. Give the frazzled mom your best “been there” smile. Lower your gaze to acknowledge the wheelchair-bound woman. Refrain from knee-jerk reactions to the complainer. Appreciate the fragile teen soul behind the creative self-expression.
Don’t be nice, be kind
Don’t be nice. Be kind. Nice is a polite response that keeps people at a distance. Kindness considers a person’s situation and offers heartfelt concern or appreciation. Gentle humor, commiseration, or a sincere compliment can encourage a person who has fallen into a bad frame of mind.
In a world that is seemingly so connected, many people go unnoticed. A listening ear can relieve loneliness. Words of peace can soften, hearts, change moods, and restore faith. If you want to keep the Christmas Spirit alive in 2019, plant seeds of peace using words of love, compassion, and understanding.
Note: This is the text of a reading presented as part of the 2018 Christmas program at Christ Presbyterian Church in Goodyear, AZ. Copyright Sydney Avey
© Sydney Avey